Friday, November 19, 2010

Fix Your PC Problems...or Pay the Price!

From our Guest Blogger at ClutterFreeStories:

If you’re anything like me, you start with the best of intentions when it comes to PC “housekeeping.” You promise yourself that you'll actually buy anti-virus software once the trial version has expired, stop downloading music and movies from “less than favorable” places, and well, we don’t need to make mention of those other sites that tend to lasso in the computer errors. Take it from me; it’s better to be vigilant than learn the hard way.

I bought my laptop in February of last year since it’s generally a great time to get good deals on expensive items. It was nice to finally not have a slow computer, and I promised myself that this time would be different. I was going to be one of those people with a clutter free PC, and it was going to stay that way. I’d say that this lasted roughly a month or two before I started to slack on the upkeep.

It started harmlessly enough, a downloaded album here and there, a contest for a free iPad, and the occasional “free” movie site. But nothing really seemed wrong with my laptop. It ran just as quickly as the day I took it home. Then I talked myself into the idea that maybe these errors were urban legends. Computer errors from downloading didn’t really exist; they were probably just scare tactics used to sell software to fix PC problems. That was until late August, when I noticed that web pages were not loading as quickly as they once had. My PC seemed to take an extra long time to start when I turned it on. By late September, there was definitely a problem. Essentially, my computer was running as poorly as the one I had replaced earlier that year.

I figured the warranty would cover whatever was causing all the glitches, and that this would be a simple exchange. After all, I hadn’t owned the laptop a year, and this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening to a new computer. Though I knew that some of the stuff I did online wasn’t too great for my computer’s health, there’s no way you can really tell what causes a problem. I figured I could just bring it to the store, show them what was wrong and they’d just replace it. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.   

It just so happened that the girl who helped me was the same girl who initially sold me the computer back in February. I handed her the machine and told her the laundry list of problems I was experiencing. She nodded and took the laptop to the desk at the back of the store. I followed her still babbling about all the strange things it was doing in hopes that it would make a stronger case for replacing the machine. She hooked up the laptop to another computer and booted up.

We had been waiting in silence for what felt like days for my computer to start. “Do you use your computer a lot?” She asked suddenly. I almost forgot why I was there until her question jolted me back to reality.

“Yeah, sure. No more or less than anyone else, I guess.” I started to feel uncomfortable. I guess I shouldn’t have worked so hard on telling a story that made it seem that the computer just suddenly stopped working correctly for no apparent reason. “I’m really careful with it, I barely even take it off my desk. I wonder why I even bought a laptop in the first place since it doesn’t leave its spot too often.” I don’t know why I started feeling guilty, I wasn’t trying to scam anybody. After some tinkering and clicking, she finally closed the lid of my laptop.

“Sir, it seems you have quite a few registry errors and that is what’s making your computer act this way. Since you didn’t purchase our store warranty, we can offer to clean it up for $199.99.”

“What about the manufacturer warranty, won’t that cover it?” I really didn’t want to pay $200.00 to repair my computer when it wasn’t even a year old.

“Unfortunately, the manufacturer warrant doesn’t cover this sort of thing. That only covers things that are mechanically wrong with the computer or something that wasn’t user-induced.”

I agreed to pay, but I wasn’t very happy about it. To add insult to injury, I saw an ad on TV later that same night for software that essentially did just what the retailer had done but for a fraction of the price. Since this faithful day, I’m more careful about what I do online.  I’ve also invested in software to keep my computer healthy and clutter free. I was skeptical at first, but from what the error reports have told me, I definitely made the right decision.